Police to start recording 'wildlife crimes' to protect endangered species

Deputy Political Editor

Police officers have been instructed to keep detailed records of wildlife smuggling in an attempt to crack down on the lucrative trade in such items as illegal ivory and medicines containing rhino horn.

The move comes amid growing alarm over the trafficking of products derived from endangered species.

The Independent’s 2013 Elephant Appeal raised more than £500,000 to combat the poaching crisis that was resulting in around 100 elephants being killed every day for their ivory.

Until now animal-related offences have not been separated out in the crime statistics compiled by the 43 police forces in England and Wales.

Critics said the absence of clear data had hampered efforts to tackle the criminal gangs behind trafficking of animal products.

Among the 17 offences to be identified by police is the trade in items produced from endangered species such as elephants, rhinoceroses, tigers, leopards and tortoises. The first detailed figures on the extent of the crime are set to be published in the autumn.

Norman Baker, the Home Office minister, said the moves would force police to take such offences seriously – and enable police and crime commissioners to hold them to account if they failed.

He told The Independent: “This is a major issue for us. Do we want to be the generation that sees the end of the elephant, the tiger, the rhino? What a terrible legacy that would be for generations to come.

“We have a duty to take on the callous individuals who don’t care what they are doing. They are completely immoral.”

He added: “This is just the beginning for how we record and respond to wildlife crime.”

The move, which does not cover Scottish police, was welcomed by the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA). It said the step would enable police and the public to identify areas which are “hotspots” for the illicit trade.

Simon Pope, the WSPA’s UK director of campaigns and communications, said: “This separate classification for the reporting of wildlife offences is an important first step towards the UK being able to create a true picture of the scale of this exploitative and abhorrent crime.”

He called on the Government to go further and direct police forces to record domestic wildlife offences such as poaching and the persecution of badgers, bats and birds of prey.

At an international conference three months ago in London, attended by representatives of 46 countries, governments pledged to go beyond earlier commitments and support the commercial ban on the international trade in ivory until the survival of elephants is no longer threatened.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Key Sales Account Manager - OTE £35,000

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Designer / Design Director

£38000 - £48000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This B2B content marketing agen...

Austen Lloyd: Law Costs HOD - Southampton

£50000 - £60000 per annum + Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: An outstanding new...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn